July 23rd, 2024

Woman ordered to repay AISH benefits


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on July 10, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge woman who received financial assistance to which she wasn’t entitled, has been fined and ordered to repay the government thousands of dollars.

Jennifer Elaine Wielenga, who was initially charged with fraud, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice to a single charge under the Income and Employment Supports Act of failing to disclose information while receiving government benefits.

Between October 2018 and August 2022 Wielenga received $30,000 more than she was entitled under the provincial government’s Assured Income For the Severely Handicapped program.

To receive AISH payments Wielenga was required to provide the government with a certain amount of information, including her marital status, since that would affect the amount of money she would receive. She got married in October 2018, but by August 2022 she still hadn’t disclosed it.

“So she received benefits as a single person during that time instead of as a married person,” Crown Prosecutor Robert Morrison pointed out.

The maximum fine under the Act is $2,000, but Morrison said Wielenga does not have a previous criminal record, and suggested the offence may have simply been an oversight on her part.

Wielenga was fined $500 and ordered to repay the government the $30,000 overpayment, portions of which would likely be taken off her monthly benefits, Morrison added. She has until March 31, 2025 to pay the fine.

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